Taking Possession Of Our Tomorrow From Today
Ndi b’anyi ekenem unu
This is a very important day to me. In fact it is a home coming for me. Why do I say so? Well, as most of you are fully aware, Lagos occupies an important place in my personal story. I bagged both my first and second degrees from the University of Lagos and for over twenty five years, I lived among you here; pursuing my career from the oil and gas sector to banking. Over the years, I made friends here; evolved into a man here, got married and ended my career on a glorious note here. And when I answered the call to serve our beloved State as governor, I got the highest support, encouragement and prayers from you people here. That is why this event is a great home coming to me. And on behalf of the people and government of Anambra State, I welcome you all.
Umu nnem, after almost two years of applying myself to the challenge that we all prayed for, I have returned for two important reasons – First is to give you my Mid-term Report Card and seek your help, professional advice and partnership. Then, next is to make peace with so many of you here who have felt neglected or disrespected by their inability to reach me since I took on the full weight of my office.
Brothers and sisters, I am one of you. I came from among you. A bukwanum nwanne unu! I am fully aware of the complaints and I want to sincerely apologise for that. I respectfully ask for your forgiveness and I hope that you will be kind enough to forgive me. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa; “Forgiveness says you are given a chance to make a new beginning.” I humbly ask for this chance, my brothers. Let me assure you that we are seriously perfecting our internal processes to ensure a speedier response that will give everyone a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. From my heart, I am immensely grateful for your kind understanding and support. Dalunu rinne. Oga abalu unu!
And now, My Report Card
Ndi b’anyi, when I took the oath of office on March 17, 2014, I condensed the basic philosophy of my administration into my Vision and Mission Statements. I stated that my Vision is to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities while my Mission is to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. Umu nnem, two years down the line, I am proudly standing before you to say that both statements are almost fully realised.
Unu ana akukwa aka ebea? Thank you. Dalunu! Now, here is a breakdown of what we have done -
Our approach to realising our Vision and Mission for Anambra State is instructive. Anyone who had observed Igboland from the end of the Biafran War to 2014 can tell that Upper Iweka and all the areas stretching to 10km radius were notorious for violent crimes of all types. In fact, at a point, crime became synonymous with Anambra State. It gave me a grave concern because I knew that if we didn’t handle security well, my Vision and Mission for Anambra State would suffer a stillbirth. It worried me that successive administrations had sought to tame the monster of violent crime in the state but no amount of efforts had proved sufficient enough to solve it. But I found courage in Nelson Mandela’s comment that “it always seems impossible until it is done.” So, when I took the oath of office, I assured Ndi Anambra that under my watch, we would “redraft the operational manual of the entire security apparatchik of Anambra State to ensure a lightning-quick response.” And that was exactly what we did. We launched Operation Kpochapu and organised an International Security Summit that attracted a top Israeli security expert, Moshe Keinan as the key facilitator. Shortly after that, we launched an all-out war against crime and criminality in the state, pulling down the warehouses where kidnappers kept their human cargoes and running them out of town. We were so clinical that we did not only detect and cut off their weapons supply lines but we also tracked a notorious kidnapper to Lagos and picked him up inside a South African bound aircraft. That sounded a loud warning on how serious we are in the war in the war against criminals. Since then, we have grown in efficiency and effectiveness.
In August last year, we successfully made our campaign against crime a bigger concern when we hosted a Regional Security Summit for the five South Eastern states and the Delta. We figured that Anambra would be safer if other surrounding states were safe enough. In December last year, we tightened the screws on our security campaign when we donated 25 Smart Cars to the Nigerian Police. These cars are Command & Control Centres with ultra-modern crime-bursting gadgets that make crime detection and prevention look like a piece of cake. And while the ovation was still loud, we donated a Gunboat to the Nigerian Navy to ensure a regular patrol across the water channels to seal off all the routes used by criminals. We also ensured a hundred percent coverage of the state in December last year, when we launched an aerial surveillance by a Police Helicopter throughout the Yuletide Season. With this last effort, we made sure that Anambra was effectively covered on the ground, in the waters and in the skies. With that effort too, it was no longer in doubt that Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria. And for the second time since the creation of Anambra State, we celebrated Christmas without a single incident of crime! Ana akukwa aka ebaa?
The Four Pillars and Key Enablers
Umu nnem, it is important that you understand the centrality of SECURITY to the success we have recorded in Anambra State so far. Incidentally, Security is also part of what I categorized in my Blueprint as The Enablers. The Enablers are essentially the basic ingredients of development that must be in place for a fruitful implementation of the main Pillars of my Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development. The Enablers include – Security, Education, Health, the Environment, Social Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Tourism, Sports and Youth Entrepreneurship, Women Affairs and Social Welfare among others. The Four Pillars are Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas.
Ladies and gentlemen, for want of time, the rest of my address shall focus on what we have achieved with the Four Pillars and some Key Enablers.
However, for a better understanding of our strategic approach to building a New Anambra State, it is important to recall that in my Inaugural Address, I had assured Ndi Anambra that (and I quote) “the time has come to prove to ourselves that the entrepreneurial spirit for which our people are known all over the world can take firm roots at home; that together as one, we can be masters of our own house!” I had also declared, (and I quote again) that “under my administration, we have no choice than to decide whether we are truly the sons and daughters of our fathers and true heirs to their long history of pioneering excellence!” Ndi Anambra, our achievements in the last 23 months have almost answered the question of whose children we are. And this is how we did it –
ANSIPPA and Anambra’s Emerging Industrial Map
One of the great initiatives that have facilitated the new narrative in Anambra so far is the formation of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). This is the ultimate one-stop investment boutique of Anambra State. Headed by renowned investment bankers, business analysts , the Attorney General and the Commissioner for Lands, ANSIPPA has the mandate of attracting investments and fast-tracking the process of investing in Anambra State. The agency conducts due diligence on prospective investors, procures the necessary documentation in record time and makes the entire process of settling down for business easy and memorable to all classes of investors. ANSIPPA has turned out to be one of the visionary initiatives of my administration; attracting investments valued at $3.2billion in the past twenty three months with $372m as equity from Anambra State Government. Just last week alone, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding valued at $66.6m with SHIRAAN Limited for waste management and power generation. All the investments we have attracted so far cut across Agriculture, Trade & Commerce, manufacturing, hospitality, housing, electricity generation, waste management, health and oil and gas. More investments are coming. However, it is important that we remember that all these investments would have been impossible if we had not turned Anambra into Nigeria’s safest state!
Umu nnem when we launched our Agricultural Revolution on May 15, 2015 in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Headquarters, I reminded our people that our ancestors judged a man by the strength of his arm and that a man who could not feed his family was regarded as an efulefu! A failure! But the truth is that in our world today, that responsibility has been transferred to our political leaders. Again, in Anambra State, we have not only answered that call with the highly successful mechanised agriculture in Anaku, Ayamelum operated by Coscharis Farms, but we have also flooded the market with a particularly sweet and wholesome brand of rice known as Anambra Rice. The popularity of this brand of rice amongst our people is not in doubt. In fact last month, we firmly placed Anambra on the international map as an exporter of farm produce when we exported vegetables (Ugu and Onugbu) valued at $5m to Europe. Ndi b’anyi kuonu aka biko! Dalunu! Coming at a time when the Nigerian economy is undergoing a most severe challenge, the significance of this achievement cannot be over emphasized. May I also use this opportunity to remind our people that the time has come to make a quick transition from great importers of goods and products to great exporters of finished products and raw materials. Happily, our brother Innocent Chukwuma recently blazed the trail in this regard when his cars crossed the channel to Ghana. Ndi Anambra, kuolunu ya aka! Anyi nwelu madu! We can do more if we believe!
Essentially, our achievements in Agriculture include the $150m Coscharis Farms Project in Anaku with an expected capacity to produce 60,000 metric tonnes of rice which has since commenced operation with 500 hectares of rice. There is also NOVTEC Farms Ltd in Omogho and Ndikelionwu that will plant rice on 450 hectares of land with total investments valued at $50m. We have Joseph Agro with $160m rice project in Omor and Ufuma and an expected output of 100,000 metric tonnes of rice. Currently, Anambra consumes 320,000 metric tonnes. Our current rice production output stands at 190 metric tonnes. When all these farms begin to function at full capacity in the next one year, we shall not only surpass our consumption figure but become an exporter of rice. We also have Ekcel Farms with a $220m cassava and tomato production and processing farm in Omasi. Then, we have DelFarms with $50m integrated organic farm project in Igbariam and Grains and Silos with $40m investment in storage facilities. There are also Lynden Integrated Farms with $61m poultry farm in Igbariam as well as Tricity Integrated Farms with $11.4m ultra-modern abattoir in Awka. Ndi Anambra, with Agriculture alone, Anambra State is perfectly on the rise!
When I gave my account of stewardship almost one year ago in Awka, I boldly invoked the spirit of Igbo-made and the creative genius that saw our people through the adversities of the Biafran War. Ndi b’anyi, our strategic efforts to industrialize Anambra State is in line with that agenda. Industrialization is therefore a major Pillar of my economic blueprint. Our objective is to become one of the top 3 industrialized states in Nigeria. We are pursuing this in four key areas – creation of modern industrial parks and small-to-medium enterprise clusters, improved drive for investments, better access to financing and strategic capacity building.
Today, we have so far attracted over $140 million of investment to the manufacturing sector. These investments include -
a. Richborn Automotive Industries Limited – which is investing over $50 million to build an automotive assembly plant in Ozubulu. This project, in addition to Innoson Motors and our auto spare parts business in Nnewi will re-affirm our position as the auto-capital of Nigeria.
b. Under my administration, Intafact Breweries Limited has successfully expanded its operations to 2.5m hectolitres valued at 150 million dollars. This represents a 400% increase!
c. In addition, we have hosted Trade Missions from Thailand, Ireland and the UK respectively and just last week, a delegation from the British Commonwealth Office in London visited me in Amawbia to explore possibilities of stronger bilateral relations. We have also held fruitful bilateral talks with the United States of America, China, Germany, South Korea and the European Union. Ndi be anyi, odi ofele? Okwa ife unu zilim ka mu na eme?
Trade & Commerce
Our objective in Trade and Commerce is to move Anambra to the Top-3 states in Trade and Commerce in Nigeria. To achieve this, we are rehabilitating our existing markets and building new ones alongside ultramodern shopping malls across the state.
Here are some of our key achievements over the last 23 months:
a. We flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping complex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA. This commercial and lifestyle complex will be the first of its kind in Africa. The retail outlets will be operated by leading brands from across the world.
b. Onitsha Shopping Mall is one of the legacy projects of my predecessor that my administration has continued as part of our promise of continuity. With Shoprite, a cinema hall and several global retail outlets, Onitsha Shopping Mall will offer a world class shopping and entertainment experience in Anambra. The mall is almost set for commissioning. We have also increased the pace of work on the other 2 modern shopping malls in Awka and Nnewi.
c. Similarly, the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area valued at $75 million dollars is nearing completion while Expression of Interest has been concluded on the Umunze International Market.
d. Finally, work is progressing on the three buildings that will form part of the Second ICT Business Park in Onitsha. Meanwhile the Close-Circuit Cameras (CCTV) has been installed in Main Market, Onitsha which has completely eliminated pickpocketing and reduced petty crimes by over 80%! A similar project will be undertaken in other big markets in the state in partnership with Market Associations.
Oil & Gas
Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels and 30 trillion cubic feet of oil and gas. Our target is to have a fully developed Oil & Gas sector by 2018. We intend to achieve this through 3 broad areas of intervention – policy formulation & infrastructure development, private sector participation and community re-orientation.
In the area of Policy Formulation, we have ensured that we do not make the same mistakes of our neighbours by crafting far-sighted policies and statutes to drive the development of this sector. To facilitate this, my bill proposing the establishment of the Anambra State Oil & Gas Development Agency has already been passed into law.
As a follow up, we have also set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by our very own renowned Dr. Emmanuel Egboga, the former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters. This committee is charged with drafting a comprehensive Blueprint for the Oil & Gas sector and advising the State on the necessary steps that would ensure the recognition of Anambra as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria.
Hitherto, there was no access road to the oilfields in Aguleri and the Orient Petroleum facility and oilfields there could only be accessed through Enugu State. However, we have opened that access to the oil fields by building Anambra’s longest bridge across the Omambala River in Aguleri. The bridge is 280 meter long and on a 42KM road. This bridge is 90 percent ready. We are also building two other bridges to the oil fields through Umueje in Ayamelum and Umudiora in Anambra West Local Government Areas. Similarly, we have concluded plans to pipe ATK (aviation fuel) from the Orient Petroleum Refinery to the proposed cargo Airport in Umueri where a storage facility will be built for it. The idea is for the airport to serve as a major hub for the re-fuelling of international flights in West Africa. We have since flagged off the construction of three dual-carriage ways that will open up access to the proposed airport from three strategic directions – Umueri, Awkuzu and Nteje axis.
Still on Oil & Gas, we are partnering with UD Integrated Petroleum Production Development Company, UDIPPCO, and Falcon Corporation Limited to invest in the development of our gas-to-power initiative in the State.
a. UDIPPCO has already commenced the building of a central gas processing facility in Umerum, which will produce lean gas that will serve as feedstock for various gas utilization projects, including an 80MW power plant in the first instance; and subsequently, a urea/fertilizer plant, and a methanol plant.
b. Similarly, Falcon Corporation plans to pipe Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas across 3 strategic locations in the State. This initiative will facilitate the transportation of natural gas across the state.
c. We also have a PPP arrangement with STANEL Petroleum for the construction of tank farms for the storage of petroleum products in the State.
These investments will spur the Industrialization of our dear state, drive Agriculture, most especially agri-business and Trade & Commerce which are all key economic pillars of my Administration. Umu nnem, that is what we have done so far with The Four Pillars of Development. Now, let’s look at some key Enablers.
Update on Key Enablers
The Enablers are the basic foundation upon which the Four Pillars of Development stand. There are 12 of them but I am constrained by time to give you an update on only a few of them -
1. Roads and Infrastructure -
Ndi Anambra, we have kept our Promise in the building and maintenance of roads and bridges in this state. The three flyovers in Awka speak eloquently of our ambition to transform Anambra with world class infrastructure. The nearly completed Arroma Bridge is not only a beauty to behold but a monument to the pride of our people and our resolve to stand up and be counted among Nigeria’s elite states. The one in Kwata will be completed in May this year. Similarly, we have built two bridges and a 5-Cell Culvert in Awgbu-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma axis and asphalted over 102 roads. And I want to put it on record that there is no single road we inherited from my predecessor that we have abandoned. Things may have slowed down a bit because of the state of the economy but we have no abandoned any projects in Anambra State. The interesting thing is that we are undertaking all these capital intensive projects at a time when Nigeria’s economy is in its worst possible shape.
Our achievements in the Educational Sector have remained outstanding in the past three years. Essentially, we approach education in three broad areas – infrastructural development, pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare.
Under my watch, we have maintained our enviable position in NECO examinations by recording approximately 80% in 5 Credits including English Language and Mathematics in year 2015 while Anambra children from a few public schools represented Nigeria at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore. We are also current national champions in the national Pre-basic Debate Competition held in Abeokuta, Ogun State to mark Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary. The same debate team defeated the debate team of 80-year old Katung Secondary in Singapore in January this year in a Mock Debate held to prepare the finalists in this year’s World Schools Debate Championship holding in Germany later this year. Similarly, our own Rose Nkemdilim Obi also won last year’s national Teacher of the Year Award to underscore the silent revolution that is going on in the educational sector. But more specifically, we have disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools, renovated 1000 units of 10-classroom blocks and awarded scholarships estimated at N30 million to over 200 students. We would have done more but for the bleak state of the economy.
We have added new units to the Onitsha General Hospital and built a helipad for air ambulances that will speed up emergency cases. We have also built several blocks of houses that will serve as Isolation Units in case of an outbreak of epidemics. The complex has been designated as the Centre for Tropical Disease Control. Other facilities have also been refurbished in hospitals at Umunze and Atani. We are in a historic partnership with the Rise Health Incorporation of America to strengthen rural health delivery in the state. The partnership gave birth to a specialist outfit known as the Anambra Business Coalition (ABC) through which the Orumba General Hospital has been refurbished and re-equipped to deliver a world class medical service to the people of Orumba North and South. The ABC has also set up an ultramodern Rise Clinic in Adazi Ani and Onitsha respectively to offer quality healthcare to the people. Ossamola General Hospital Ogbaru will be given a similar attention this year. Meanwhile, we have set machinery in motion to ensure the provision of a comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme for Ndi Anambra.
The Environment is one of the key Enablers in my blueprint. Anambra is one of Nigeria’s smallest states in geographical size, next to Lagos State. I am therefore seriously concerned about the perennial menace of soil erosion in the state. Our swift response to the gully erosion that recently cut off the Nkpor Junction in Idemili Council Area is indicative of our sure-fire approach to environmental issues in the state. There is another site in Abagana where a massive recovery work is going on to put an end to a huge widening gully. An aggressive tree planting campaign is also going on in Orumba to checkmate the spreading effects of climate change and its unpleasant manifestations on the environment. Meanwhile, we have mounted a serious campaign to retrieve our cities from the menace of dirt and to instil a culture of cleanness in our people. Our road-sweepers can be seen everywhere in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi cleaning up the cities from sun-up to sun-down.
Mass Transit Scheme
Umu nnem, we have made bold attempts to change urban transportation in Anambra State. We initiated the modern mass transit scheme that covers the three major cities in the state with 200 brand new taxis and 40 luxurious buses. This was followed up with the construction of modern bus stops and bus terminals in strategic parts of the state. This initiative was recently expanded to include marine transport with 24 Speedboats and Water Ambulances and one Gunboat for the Nigerian Navy. The idea is to open access to the riverine communities in the state and ensure that no part of the state is cut off from the phenomenal development spreading across the state. We are also building a comprehensive vehicle inspection workshop in Awka that will check the road-worthiness of vehicles in Anambra State to minimize the carnage on our roads. At the same time, I personally made sure that the Smart cars we donated to the police in December last year are equipped with Speed-tracking Devices that would help us enforce sanity on our roads.
We recently commissioned 47 solar-powered boreholes that will serve 27 communities in Aguata and Anambra East Local Government Areas respectively. We are not relenting on rural electrification as we have expanded the 33KVA line that supplies power to Anambra North and installed 250 transformers in strategic locations across the state. Meanwhile, Anambra North Senatorial Zone has just been linked to the Agu Awka sub-station and for the first time in five years, the zone now enjoys a regular supply of electricity. We are working very hard to ensure that Anambra South Senatorial Zone will begin to enjoy stable power supply in six months.
Right from the inception of my administration, we have always had a place for women. The fact is that, women do not only have a significant representation in my cabinet, they also occupy important portfolios. But what is interesting about the women in my EXCO is that they are all high achievers. Bikonu kuolunu fa aka! However, apart from ensuring that Umunwanyi Anambra are not left out of the scheme of things in the state, we also made sure that women are given a special consideration on policies and programmes that are related to empowerment. For instance, 60% of the N2bn MSME Intervention Fund from the CBN that is disbursed by the Anambra Small Business Association (ASBA) is targeted at women. There is also the Girl-Child Education Scheme in Anambra North that empowers parents to send their teenage daughters to school rather than push them into early marriage. We also have the Migrant Farmers Schools Scheme which takes schools to the agricultural belts in the remote areas where women are often in the majority as farmers. Similarly, my administration has actively promoted the formation of women cooperatives through which women traders are given soft loans for business. Indeed, there is no gainsaying the fact that this is the season of the Anambra woman!
Umu nnem, Anambra is second to none in the welfare of workers in the whole of Nigeria. We are the only state that increased the salary of workers by 15% in 2015 at a time when many states were looking for bailouts. We have also shown the humane side of governance with a series of worker-friendly policies and gestures. For instance, we have since cleared the N1.9bn arears of salaries owed the State Water Corporation staff as well as the approximately N1bn pension the state owed Local Government retirees inherited by my administration. Similarly, I granted amnesty to 25 prisoners serving different jail terms in Anambra State to mark Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary last year. These ex-convicts are currently undergoing a training in a school for skill acquisition at Umueri and will be handed N1m each at the end of their training.
The IGR Revolution
We have set an impressive record in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with a remarkable increase from the N500m monthly that we inherited from my predecessor to N1.3bn per month at the moment. Coming at a time when many states in the federation are desperately looking for alternative revenue to stave off the shock of dwindling allocations from the federal government, this is a great feat. We achieved this through a timely deployment of cutting edge technology and a clinical wedding out of over 800 ghost workers from the state civil service. We have made several efforts to boost our IGR; the last one being the IGR Summit we organised in partnership with Fidelity Bank last week. Before that, we had organised a Strategic Retreat for my EXCO members to seek new ways of raising our IGR without increasing taxes. Right now, our mantra in Awka is “doing more with less,” and our target is to achieve N2.2bn in monthly revenue before the end of this year.
A Passionate Appeal
Ladies and gentlemen, I will not conclude this address without appealing to you people here and Ndi Anambra all over the world, to lend a hand to the efforts going on at home to build Anambra State. There is just so much that the state government can do. I deeply believe that we have the know-how and the resources to turn our beloved state into a model. I appeal to you to bring your money home to Anambra State and invest it there. Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria today and our rating is growing every day in the investment community. The future is looking brighter and brighter but with your assistance and belief in the government of Anambra State, we can take possession of our tomorrow from today. I challenge you to do something ennobling and good for Anambra State today – Adopt a school, adopt a road or partner with the government on any project of your choice. The ball is now in your court!
Finally, as I take my seat, I assure you that whatever I did not say in my address is effectively covered in the Documentary you are going to watch shortly.
Oga adili unu nma oo!
Senior Special Assistant to Gov Willie Obiano on Social Media
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